The 39-year-old Pnina Tamano-Shata came to Israel at the age of three as part of a dramatic evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan nicknamed Operation Moses.
119 new Ethiopian immigrants arrived in Israel this week on a specially chartered aircraft due to strict regulations put in place to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
This was the second such group of olim (immigrants) from Ethiopia since the coronavirus pandemic started, with 72 olim arriving in March.
The new immigrants were greeted upon arrival by the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, and the new Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata.
“It’s a huge privilege to welcome these 119 wonderful olim from Ethiopia just as I begin my position as aliyah and integration minister,” Tamano-Shata, who is herself an Ethiopian immigrant, said in a statement.
Pnina Tamano-Shata, who belongs to Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, is the first minister of Ethiopian origin.
The 39-year-old came to Israel at the age of three as part of a dramatic evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan nicknamed Operation Moses.
She, her five brothers and her father were among almost 7,000 Ethiopian Jews airlifted out of the country by Israel between November 1984 and January 1985. Her mother followed several years later.
“For me, this is a landmark and the closing of a circle,” she told Israeli newspaper Maariv. “From that three-year-old girl who immigrated to Israel without a mother on a cross-desert foot journey, through growing up in Israel and the struggles I led and am still leading for the community, integration, the acceptance of the other, and against discrimination and racism.”
The new minister said: ”This week, 111 olim arrived from Ukraine and 41 from Russia. The Aliyah and Integration Ministry works tirelessly to promote aliyah, absorption and integration of new olim from all over the world. We are preparing for a massive wave of aliyah resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.” ”I’m glad the new government will place an emphasis on aliyah and integration and will make increasing aliyah from all over the world a priority,” she added.